SNCF: Edouard Philippe Receives Railway Unions without Intending to Touch his Reform

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Primeminister Edouard Philippe meets the SNCF railway unions

The Prime Minister meets on Monday with the railway unions for the first time since the beginning of the SNCF conflict, a hand “tense but firm” according to Matignon.

Edouard Philippe met on Monday the railway unions for the first time since the beginning of the strike action at the SNCF, a hand “tense but firm” according to Matignon who intends to discuss the debt, without touching the reform.

The Prime Minister will receive from 8 am the railway federations, accompanied by their confederal officials. Unsa will launch the ball, then it will be the turn of the delegations CGT, CFDT, SUD-Solidaires, then FO.

In the afternoon, the employers of rail, the direction of the SNCF, user associations and representatives of the regions will be received in turn by Édouard Philippe and Élisabeth Borne, the Minister of Transport.

At the same time, the eighth strike sequence at SNCF starts Monday at 8pm and ends on Thursday at 7.55am.

The end of railway status

At Matignon, the exchanges promise to be animated between the railway unions, who have been on strike for a month against a reform they deem useless and stigmatizing, and a government that does not deviate from its initial objective.

“We will not go back on the opening to the competition, we will not return on the reorganization of the company and on the end of the recruitment with the statute”, repeats to the envi Édouard Philippe.

These three topics are “not negotiable” because “this is what will make the success of rail public service tomorrow,” insisted Sunday on BFM-TV the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire.

“If he wants to get out of the conflict,” said Laurent Brun, number one CGT Cheminots Sunday night, “it will take the government moves on its reform.” “The strikers will go to the end,” he warned on BFM-TV.

SUD-Rail, which refuses to negotiate “accompaniments” to the government project, organizes a demonstration Monday morning in Paris, near the Invalides, which should continue in Montparnasse at midday.

If Laurent Berger, number one of the CFDT, sees in Monday’s meeting “an act of openness”, he claims, in an interview with Les Echos, “clear commitments” on the recovery of debt, the policy of state investment and “guarantee” of a “high-level collective agreement”.

14th strike at Air France

On the side of the government, it insists on the “indispensable” nature of the reform, adopted in mid-April at first reading in the Assembly.

“The Prime Minister’s approach has not changed: his hand is tense but it remains firm,” says Matignon. Édouard Philippe recalled “that he would not return to the main thrusts of this reform but that there were still elements to be clarified before the text of the Senate, on the 23rd May, particularly about the economic model of SNCF and its debt “.

The State has undertaken to gradually resume, starting in early 2020, a portion of SNCF Réseau’s debt, which reached 46.6 billion euros at the end of 2017 and continues to grow.

The question that will be debated Monday to Matignon is “what amount, how fast, in what form,” summed Bruno Le Maire Sunday.

The unions, which do not put the subject top of their concerns, have already promised a “day without a railway” May 14 in case “failure” discussions.

For the time being, the conflict seems to be stalled, as is the case at Air France, which is also closely watched by the government.

The company is facing Monday on its fourteenth day of strike for wages since February, before a fifteenth Tuesday.

If traffic improves with nearly 85% of flights maintained Monday, due to a declining mobilization among pilots, the future remains uncertain.

The inter-union at the origin of the conflict, which has already cost more than 300 million euros, must meet in the afternoon to take further notice or, on the contrary, suspend the movement.

It is the wish of the management that stresses that no negotiation can “engage” currently. It is active indeed to find a successor to Jean-Marc Janaillac, president resigned from Air France since Friday and the rejection, by employees, of the project of exit of crisis proposed to the staff.

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